CARE launches CARE&SHARE seminars

By Daniel Teo

The Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) recently began its seminar series. For the inaugural seminar on October 27, A/P Shiv Ganesh from the University of Waikato, New Zealand, presented a two-part seminar on social movements. On November 15, CARE’s own Dr. Kang Sun discussed his dissertation on peasant workers in China.

CARE&SHARE 1: Community Resilience, Social Justice Activism, and the New Dialogic

In the first session, entitled “Community Resilience: Resistance and Renewal in an Age of Ecological,” Shiv discussed the need for a new theoretical vernacular to explain how communities organise, especially in a global and ecological context. He argued that conventional theories on social movements focus on their absence, rather than their emergence.

In the following session, “Coordination, Connectedness and Exchange: The New Dialogic in Social Justice Activism,” Shiv spoke about how local social movements were connected to and transformed by larger global movements. He drew heavily from his ethnographic work on the Occupy movement in Wellington, New Zealand.

For more detailed notes and video clips on Sessions 1 and 2 of Shiv’s presentation, please visit the respective blog posts by CARE researcher Jagadish Thaker and seminar participant Cheryll Soriano.

CARE&SHARE 2: Manufacturing Identity: Peasant Workers’ Spatial Production in China

Kang regaled the seminar participants with stories from his childhood in rural China and graduate student days in Ohio. He connected these experiences of Chinese and American identities to his dissertation on how identities are constructed, not just socially and symbolically, but spatially and materially as well. Kang also spoke about his ethnographic work on Chinese factory workers who had left their villages in the countryside to pursue their fortunes in the city.

For more on Kang’s presentation, please read CARE Director Prof. Mohan Dutta’s blog post on his reflections on the seminar. A video of the seminar can be found on the CARE website.

CARE is a global hub for health communication research that uses participatory and culture-centered methodologies to develop community-driven health communication solutions. The center is currently funded by a $1.9 million grant from the National University of Singapore. To learn more about CARE, please visit our website.

Research talk by Dr. Ingrid M.Hoofd

Simulating Climate Change: Beyond the ‘True’ or ‘False’


Date & time: Wed, 21 November, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Venue: CNM Meeting room, AS6, #03-33, 11 Computing Drive, NUS

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About the talk

This paper argues that the anthropogenic climate change model is the product of the acceleration of the humanist aporia, and is as such an hypermodern enactment of traditional environmentalism. It claims that climate science and activism illustrate the contradiction internal to humanism, because their assumption is that certain human activity is responsible for our ecological crisis, while simultaneously calling upon similar human action and debate to avert this crisis. This paradox shows that our era of technological acceleration, while exceedingly challenging the primacy of technological innovation, still affirms an overconfident image of the human in its very attempt at critiquing human mastery of ‘nature.’ The paper in turn argues that this aporetic logic generates a simulation of climate change in the media. This simulation is certainly ‘real,’ but is moreover an allegory for our era of acceleration and its economic instability. This paper therefore claims that the division into ‘for’ or ‘against’ the reality of anthropogenic climate change eventually dissimulates the more fundamental problems facing humanity today, and that much contemporary environmental activism and debate fails to sufficiently deepen its critique vis-à-vis the raised stakes under acceleration.


About the speaker

Dr. Ingrid M. Hoofd is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Her research interests are Issues of Representation, Feminist and Critical Theories, and Philosophy of Technology. Her work addresses the ways in which alter-globalist activists, as well as left-wing academics, mobilize discourses and divisions in an attempt to overcome gendered, raced and classed oppressions worldwide, and the ways in which such mobilization are implicated in what she calls ‘speed-elitism.’ This work explores in particular the intersections between various forms of contemporary political activism and the oeuvre of Jean Baudrillard and Paul Virilio. Ingrid wrote her Masters thesis on Cyberfeminism at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. She has been involved in various feminist and new media activist projects, like Indymedia, Next Five Minutes, HelpB92, and NextGenderation. More on  She recently published “Ambiguities of Activism: Alter-Globalism and the Imperatives of Speed”.

A Double Surprise!

CNM threw a thank-you party for Assoc Prof Millie Rivera for her dedicated service over two terms as CNM Head. Her successor, Prof Mohan Dutta was in turn surprised by a welcome-cum-tenure celebration.

CNM staff had a rollicking time hosting both profs who sent out separate but similar emails within the hour, each thinking they were organising a surprise party for the other.

The event started with buffet lunch attended by faculty, grad students and alumni. The guests were entertained by a video tribute put together by Dr Millie’s former students. CNM alumni also penned down their gratitude to Dr Millie in a scrapbook. Overwhelmed by the gesture of appreciation, Dr Millie declared that CNM would always hold a special place in her heart.

The party upped its ante when Assoc Prof Lonce Wyse presented the new CNM head, Prof Mohan with a Super Mario outfit, complete with a potted plant to signify power, to commemorate Prof Mohan’s arrival and tenure.

More significantly, the double celebration spoke of the common vision of both professors in bringing CNM to greater heights.

The CNM family with Dr Millie as Harry Potter and Prof Mohan as Super Mario

Stars among our Staff

CNM snagged awards in both teaching and service once again this year with Faculty Teaching Excellence Awards, Graduate Student Teaching Awards and Service Awards at both university and faculty levels.

Congratulations to our FTEA winners, Dr. Seow Ting Lee and Mr. Gui Kai Chong, and GSTA winners, Jodie Luu, Cheryll Soriano, Wendy Wong and Joel Gn!

Special mention goes out to Kai Chong, Jodie and Cheryll for winning the hat-trick and the latter two ladies for entering the GSTA Honour Roll.

We are also very proud of our admin staff, Retna who won the NUS Quality Service Award, and our tech officer, Jennifer Lau who won the Faculty Service Award.

Great job, CNMers!

UKI visits CNM

On Friday 2 November, a delegation of students and faculty from Universitas Kristen Indonesia (Christian University of Indonesia) visited CNM.  Associate Professors Cho Hichang and Lonce Wyse received them.  The Indonesian students dropped in on several classes where they sang us their university song, shared a video of their university activities and also presented us with souvenirs.  The visited was rounded off with a tour of campus and appreciation by the UKI delegates.

The UKI delegates present a token to Assoc Profs Lonce Wyse and Cho Hichang




Research Talk by Dr. Kevin McGee

Making a difference in a world where I am reified as the White Man’s gaze: Re-imagining the research, design, and development of empowering intelligent technologies as ongoing transformative co-enaction


Date & time: Wed, 14 November, 3:30 – 4:30 PM

Venue: CNM Meeting room, AS6, #03-33, 11 Computing Drive, Singapore 117416, NUS

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About the talk

This talk may bring together a diverse set of concepts and concerns with the goal of outlining a radical (and academically unsupportable) research agenda. It may also involve unfamiliar terminology and concepts, contradictions, irreconcilable goals, a cursory exploration of issues mentioned in the title of the talk, and some seemingly irrelevant YouTube videos. In the best-case scenario, it will involve all these things; in the worst-case scenario, at least there will be the YouTube videos.


About the speaker

Dr. Kevin McGee is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Communications and New Media, and the Deputy Director (Research) for the Keio-NUS CUTE Center, at the National University of Singapore. He also leads the Partner Technologies Research Group which does research to develop computational partners that facilitate and increase participation in life’s interesting and important challenges. This involves theoretical and applied work at the intersection of end-user programming, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, design methods, media studies, and the arts.

CARE&SHARE seminar by Dr. Kang Sun


Manufacturing Identity: Peasant Workers’ Spatial Prodution in China

Date: November 15, 2012 – Thursday

Time: 11:30AM – 1:00PM

Venue: CNM Meeting Room, AS6 – 03/33



About the talk

Kang’s research examines the social production of Chinese peasant workers through their experiences in factories for electronic parts manufacturing in Shenzhen, China. While the social production of identity is widely accepted, what constitutes “social” is often vague. In many discussions of identity production, media representations and discursive construction are taken as all there is for a “social” production process of identity.However, by tracing the changes in the laborers’ living and working environment back to their trans-local material formations, Kang demonstrates how the transnational capital production process must be realized through the lived trans-local experience and negotiation of exploitation and domination.

Kang argues that the wage system and the living spaces of the laborers form trans-local territorial structures of exploitation and spatially controlled social reproduction, which participate in a broader possibility of class identity production in its most detailed everyday social material relations.


About the speaker

Dr. Kang Sun received his Ph.D. from the School of Media and Communication at Bowling Green State University (BGSU), Ohio in 2012. His dissertation examined how a globalized political economy, the trans-local mobility of people, and the spatial arrangements in cities all participate in the social construction of the identity of peasant workers as China’s new working class. Kang’s primary research interests include health communication, modernization and urbanization, migration, working class, and labor, material and social space, and political economy and development communication.


This is a brown bag seminar, so please feel free to bring along a packed lunch. Further enquiries about the event may be made here.



Research Talk by Dr. Jahna Otterbacher, Open University of Cyprus, Nicosia CYPRUS

Public officials on Twitter: What are they tweeting and why might it matter?


Date & time: Monday, 12 November, 12:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Venue: CNM Meeting Room, AS6, #03-33


About the talk

As social media become a more common means for officials to communicate with constituents, it becomes crucial that we understand how they use these tools and, of course, how their use matters. I describe results from an ongoing project, in which we are following the Twitter activity of elected officials in three government bodies: the United States’ Congress, the European Parliament and the Korean National Assembly. As of August 2012, we had captured the tweets of 504 Members of Congress (MoCs), 174 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and 254 Korean National Assembly Members (NAMs). To date, our analyses have focused on two key questions: 1) What are officials trying to achieve through their tweets? 2) To what extent do officials interact with constituents?

In addressing the first question, we designed a robust coding scheme for the “actions” behind officials’ tweets. We then developed a method for automated classification of tweet actions, allowing us to study large datasets. In an analysis of all MoCs’ tweets posted over a three-month time period, we found that MoCs primarily use Twitter as a means to share information resources, as well as to position themselves with respect to issues or other politicians. In contrast, they rarely use Twitter to actually engage the public toward political action or to post pro-social comments.

In considering the second question, we performed a qualitative analysis of prolific MoCs, MEPs and NAMs tweets over a six-month period. This revealed that officials interact with constituents to varying degrees. Some tweet in a monologue style, yielding no control over the interaction to the public, while others engage in mutual discourse, initiating dialog and responding to citizens. We propose directions for further research, including extensions of current models of interactivity previously proposed by CMC scholars.

This is joint work with Libby Hemphill and Matthew A. Shapiro at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago USA.


About the speaker

Dr. Jahna Otterbacher (Ph.D., University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, USA) is a communication and information scientist who studies mass self-communication. Her research focuses on interactions between people in technology-mediated environments where the primary mode of communication is written text. She views writing as a social interaction, in that what and how one writes creates an impression as to one’s personality and credibility as a source of information. She uses mixed methodologies in her research, including quantitative and textual analyses. Her endeavour is to discover patterns in the use of language and other communicative devices in order to better facilitate interactions between people, enhancing their access to information.

Research Talk by Professor Mohan Dutta

Returning the White Man’s gaze: Reimagining social science research as politics of change

Date and Time: Wed, 7 November, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Venue: CNM Meeting room, AS6, #03-33, 11 Computing Drive, Singapore 117416, NUS

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About the talk

Interrogating taken-for-granted assumptions and the paradoxes that underlie the abstract conceptualizations of terms such as democracy and liberty, the talk will first set up the ground for deconstructing the culturally rooted notions of key concepts that shape the landscape of communication research and practice, and will then set up the methodological terrains for social change projects based on the principles of dialogue and listening. Deconstructing contemporary discourses of social science research, we will examine the ways in which the social sciences are embedded within politics of power and control. A close reading of theory development and methodology in communication opens up the discursive space for performing scholarship of social change situated amid journeys of solidarity and dialogue.


About the speaker

Dr. Mohan J. Dutta is Courtesy Professor of Communication at Purdue University, and he is Professor and Head of the Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore. At NUS, he is the Founding Director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), directing research on culturally-centered, community-based projects of social change. He teaches and conducts research in international health communication, critical cultural theory, poverty in healthcare, health activism in globalization politics, indigenous cosmologies of health, subaltern studies and dialogue, and public policy and social change. Currently, he serves as Editor of the “Global Health Communication Book Series” with Left Coast Press and sits on the editorial board of seven journals. Before arriving to NUS, he served as Associate Dean of Research in the College of Liberal Arts at Purdue University, a Service Learning Fellow, and a fellow of the Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy. Also at Purdue, he served as the Founding Director of the Center for Poverty and Health Inequities (COPHI).